Sammy Ameobi has revealed he felt like he had walked into a different club after being recalled to Newcastle United from Bolton Wanderers.
The 24-year-old had not set foot in the revamped first-team training HQ for over 18 months with his brief return in the summer taking place at the club’s Academy after being told to train with the kids following a loan stint with Cardiff City.
Toon boss Rafa Benitez opted to give Ameobi one last chance at the turn of the year after missing out on a couple of transfer targets, and now the younger brother of Shola is determined to grab that opportunity with both hands.
The winger received a tremendous reception when coming on in the second half against Rotherham on Saturday, with his appearance also meaning he is likely to stay at United until the end of the season. A change in loan rules mean he can only play for two clubs in a single campaign.
With Bolton unable to agree on a fee for his wages, he could now play a part in his hometown club’s promotion bid.
And after setting foot inside the club’s training HQ after Benitez ordered changes behind the scenes, Ameobi told the Chronicle: “It’s nothing like it was. I was like: ‘What is going on?’
“I wondered what had happened, but it’s great to be back, it really is.”
Talking about the dream of being part of the team that wins promotion back to the Premier League, Ameobi said: “I’d love to be. You can see the confidence around the place and what the manager has instilled in everyone.
“There’s a hunger and you can feel it.”
Ameobi also admitted his chance to star for Newcastle had passed him by after being sent out to Bolton last summer.
When asked if he expected one last chance he reflected: “Not really. When it came to the beginning of the season I felt that because I wasn’t involved with the first team and then to be sent out, I thought maybe my time has come.
“I think it was a good thing to go out to Bolton.
“It helped me out, it humbled me and helped me work hard again.
“I’ve done things right and the quality shone through.
“I now have my opportunity and I don’t want to take that for granted at all.”
Ameobi has also thanked Bolton for helping him get back to full fitness and form.
He said: “I’m so grateful to Bolton and everything they have done for me.
“I loved it there. The manager and the players - I got on really well with everybody, they really encouraged me.
“But I’m here now, and this is my home.”
Ameobi’s journey from the brink of leaving United for good to a first-team return culminated with a standing ovation during the 4-0 win against Rotherham.
Discussing that reception, Ameobi said: “I didn’t really expect that to be honest - it was unbelievable.
“It was great because it helped my confidence coming into the game and I really appreciate it.
“When you see homegrown players coming through it’s always good for the city.
“They are football-crazy here at St James’ Park so it’s great to be a part of it.
“It’s great and hopefully I can keep them chanting with my performances.”